Monday, June 22, 2015

"We are viewed like a cow..."

Venue for Pastors meeting in Menia, on the Nile River
"We are viewed like a cow - [the church] milks us for all we have but they refuse to feed us...spiritually..."

This was a comment from one of the business participants during a workshop held in Egypt in response to the question of how the church views business.  It was clear that the business people are frustrated by how they are perceived by the church.  Another person said, "Fifty percent think we love money; the other fifty percent love our money."  This opinion is not unique to Egypt, unfortunately.

A young entrepreneur summarized the challenge very well when he said, "Because the church does not share the participation in creating the vision and mission of the church with business people, business people don't feel a part of the church.  Because the church doesn't care for the spiritual health of business people (they just care for their money), the business people don't come to church.  But then they are accused of not coming to church because they 'love money' and because they have 'become worldly.'"

Discipling Marketplace Leaders Logo in Arabic
This comment came at the end of five workshops in Egypt: one workshop for fifty pastors in Menia (from many denominations: Coptic, Catholic, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Methodist, and others), one for thirty-two business people in Menia, one for sixty educators and pastors in Cairo, another for twelve pastors in Cairo, and the last for thirty business people in Cairo.  The meetings had all gone very well and the message of Church-based Business as Mission was received with great enthusiasm at all levels.  At the end of one session, a man approached me and said, "What you are presenting is not new.  It is Biblical."  He then followed with, "But I don't know why the church hasn't been doing this all along."
The amazing MELTI team!  They were so great!

I was very excited at the end of the week when the Middle Eastern Leadership Training Institute (MELTI) concluded that the DML program is clearly needed in Egypt, and that MELTI would be happy to partner with DML to facilitate its work.  They are a dynamic, organized, visionary team, and it was fun to work with them this past week.

Not only did the pastors and business people respond favorably, but the schools did as well.  The Academic Dean (who has been trained by both Yale and Princeton) from a seminary told me, "I have so many people that ask me about the relevance of the church in daily life and I often am at a loss for the answer.  Today, you have given me the answer."

Dr. Wahba as my translator
There was definitely a sense that God had gone before us in this, as people indicated that they had been looking for and praying about something like this.  In fact, one of the meetings we had with business people resulted with them forming a group that night.  They weren't going to wait for us to come back!  They wanted to get moving!

We will be back in September to begin training pastors and start a pilot program for business people in a church.  From there, we will then begin to train trainers.  Between now and September, we need to get all materials translated into Arabic.  Lots to do!

I leave on Monday for Kenya, where I will have a busy week as well, and then to Ghana to repeat what we just did in Egypt.  Please keep praying for this work!

Presentation to educators from six different Bible Colleges and Seminaries at the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Cairo.

All work and no play makes Renita a dull girl:  I had one day off while in Egypt, and so Dr. Walker and I took off to see some of the sites, which was a real treat.

Ya gotta see the pyramids while in Egypt.  Very cool.
And of course the Sphinx.
Brief sailboat ride down the Nile River with this father and his two sons.
The scenery from Cairo to Menia.  Maged, a MELTI staff, told me he was our tour guide.  After about twenty minutes, I told him I had learned enough to be a tour guide for the next guest:  "Desert on the right.  Desert on the left."